Indianapolis is the center of the football universe this week. The NFL Scouting Combine opened Wednesday with the first round of media interviews, and on-field participation begins Friday with offensive linemen, running backs and specialists in action.
The Pac-12 Conference is well-represented in Naptown. All 12 programs sent at least one player from a pool of candidates that range from first-round shoo-ins, to ambitious sleepers.
NFL draft’niks already know to pay attention to Cal quarterback Jared Goff, a likely first-round selection. The same goes for Su’a Cravens, the explosive and versatile USC combo linebacker and safety. The Pac-12 class of 2016 is rife with intriguing dark horses, however, and the Combine is a perfect time to get in on the ground floor of what could be a long and lucrative pro career.
5 Pac-12 Sleepers to Watch at the Combine
Travis Feeney, OLB, Washington
On a Washington roster rich with young talent, Feeney was a veteran pillar. Feeney ranked among the conference’s best pass rushers, tallying eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss.
His lean build – he’s listed at 6-foot-4, 226 pounds – might not wow NFL scouts. But Feeney’s speed should turn some heads at the Combine, as should his attitude. He’s a fiery player who relishes being an underdog.
D.J. Foster, Utility, Arizona State
Foster is one of the more intriguing Combine participants, in that he played two positions equally well during his collegiate tenure.
Foster began his career as a change-of-pace back, ascended to the primary ball carrier after Marion Grice’s graduation, and he later moved to wide receiver last season in order to make room for Demario Richard. He rushed for almost 1,100 yards as a primary running back, and posted more than 500 receiving yards in each of his four seasons in Mike Norvell’s offense.
Foster’s remarkable versatility should make him an intriguing prospect for any number of franchises.
Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
Pass-catching tight ends have been a staple of the Stanford offense for as long as David Shaw’s been in the program, and Hooper carried the torch well in 2015. He had 34 receptions for 438 yards and six touchdowns, bringing a much-needed dynamic to the Cardinal offense missing in the 2014 campaign.
Given how en vogue pass-catching tight ends are in the current NFL landscape, Hooper has the qualities to catch an intrepid GM’s eye and move up the draft board. At 6-foot-4 and around 260 pounds, Hooper isn’t the biggest tight end, but he moves like a wide receiver.
Kevon Seymour, CB, USC
Other cornerbacks in USC’s secondary garnered more attention throughout Seymour’s tenure. From 2015 draftee Josh Shaw, to triple-threat Adoree’ Jackson and freshman phenom Iman Marshall, Seymour typically played a supporting role.
The Combine is a rare opportunity for the talented Seymour to steal the spotlight, particularly if he can contend for the event’s fastest 40-yard dash time, as projected by Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.
Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright swept the national defensive awards in 2014, but the overachieving Wildcat’s Twitter handle tells the story: @TwoStarScoob. Wright’s not the kind of player who wows with measurables, hence his under-the-radar status as a two-star high school prospect. Arizona head coach summarized Wright best while talking with reporters this week.
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.